Review: Creative Stage Under-monitor Soundbar

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Creative has a long and distinguished legacy of mostly PC focused sound solutions, starting with sound cards, but over the past several years branching out in headsets, speakers, and soundbars. Almost every Creative product I’ve had the opportunity to test and tinker with has been a solid, well built, and quality piece of workmanship including the Katana which we absolutely loved.

I was hesitant yet stoked to try out the new Creative Stage 2.1 under-monitor soundbar as the small size of the actual speakers were quite small. Let’s just say I came away impressed..

What’s in the Box

A very simple yet effective bundle comes in the Stage box including the stereo under-monitor unit with volume, power, and input controls, a remote, power cable and subwoofer. Although bare-bones, not much else is needed in basic yet complete package.

Aesthetics and Build Quality

As with all of Creative’s latest offerings, everything looks slim, sleek, and minimal. Out of all of their audio offerings recently, I would say that the Stage is definitely the most minimal and without any RGB or fancy lighting, I feel this unit is more designed and definitely reflects a desire to be barely noticed, under a monitor, or HDTV. This is definitely a good thing for those who don’t need every flashing, rainbow colored RGB style speaker in their bedroom, living room, den or even kitchen. I love the design and the build quality while light in weight, is extremely solid.

Specs and Audio Quality

Now for the meat and potatoes of why we even buy these type of systems: How does it sound?! Well, I’ll be the first to admit, I had very low expectations for this unit mainly due to the lack of weight in the speakers and subs. My main gaming display for consoles has been a 42” Panasonic Plasma (Yeah, daddy likes his solid blacks and vivid colors) so temporarily, I was just using the decent but tiny built in speakers. Much to my surprise, after hooking PS4 Pro up to the Stage, I was instantly blown away with a room-filling, bass filled sonic blast that completely took me by surprise. How so much sound comes from this unit is a sheer marvel.

Stunned, I thought I’d push the unit to it’s limits. Even though the volume goes from 1-35, anything above 25 was absolutely booming and my grumpy old gamer ears couldn’t take much more. While the bass isn’t the tightest and mids are lacking, overall, the audio quality was much better than ever expected. Also, the option of HDMI, optical, stereo, and Bluetooth inputs is just super convenient.

What It Could Have Done Better

Look, if you are expecting audiophile levels of lows, mids, and highs, you aren’t going to find that here. Also, while you can control bass, treble, and preset EQs on the remote, the thing I wished most while testing is an independent subwoofer level control as even at low volume levels, sometimes the bass was boomy and a bit overwhelming.

Verdict

In the end, I absolutely adore the Creative Stage, mainly due to the stunning level of sound that comes out of such a compact unit. Not to mention, at the price point, the Stage is one of the best values out there in gaming audio. I debated back and forth on the score for this unit but after testing more and more audio sources along with a promo currently at $79, this is an extremely versatile little wonder. Whether you want to watch movies, play PC, console or just listen to some tunes, the Stage is a more than solid option.

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